‘People go back’, my friend says, ‘they always go back.’
You never go to St. Moritz just one time, Jaime claims, citing Hitchcock as case in point. Big Al honeymooned there, set a smattering of scenes from his films there, visited more than 30 times in the years after. And the resort’s history is scattered with celebrity regulars, including Chaplin and Churchill.
By all evidence, St. Moritz is habit-forming. Assuming you can afford the habit, of course: those pristine slopes and mirrored lake-views didn’t gain a reputation as the the most exclusive in Europe by serving up budget lolz. This is a place where people use summer and winter as verbs, holidaying for seasons at a time in a resort guaranteeing the sort of exclusivity that’s mostly the preserve of centuries past or fictional estates in Merchant Ivory films.
And more exclusive still is Suvretta House, set at the foot of Corviglia and more remote from the main town. While Jaime waxes lyrical about the pristine emptiness of the slopes and their 300 days of sunshine a year, the second Swiss friend we hit up for advice ahead of our holiday just says ‘Woah’ when they hear where we’re going, and ‘Woah’ again on hearing where we’re staying.
Arriving at our hotel, Hitchcock’s love affair with St. Moritz starts to make sense – as does that second ‘Woah’. And though Alfred’s regular haunts were in the centre of the town, there’s something about the Old World splendour of Suvretta House, set in grand isolation nearer the slopes, that feels intensely Hitchcockian.
We’re met with liveried doormen, staff that switch between five languages like it’s nothing, corridors dripping with chandeliers and enormous art deco lift to our suite. It’s a truism – but still, true – that most five-star hotel rooms anywhere but London could swallow most London one-bed flats. And this one comes with a host of things you might long for after a long journey: a welcome bottle of champagne, chilling in an ice bucket, piles of fruit and boxes of Engadiner Nusstorte, a big, sleek bathtub – and views out to the mountains that manage to upstage all of those.
It’s not all splendour of time gone by: Suvretta House have added in some modern opulence to go with the empire-era luxury. Rather than explore the dancing-on-tables après-ski scene – to be honest, St. Moritz feels far too stately for an actual knees-up to be on the cards – we après on Suvretta House grounds: in the outdoor hot tub, surrounded by snow and mountains; in the 1920s glamour of Anton’s Bar, and in the welcoming raclette-rich warmth of the Suvretta Stube restaurant.
By day my partner bombs around the black runs, and I inch my way along blues under the care of Passion Ski. Our breaks start to get longer and longer – and come more and more often – when we find out the quietness of the slopes in late March means prime position on the mountain restaurant terraces is ours for the taking.
Thanks to its geography, nudging up against the Italian border, St. Moritz is good at sunshine and good at spaghetti. We spend lunchtime basking outside for a dose of both at Trutz, one of Suvretta House’s four restaurants (read more about two of them here), drinking hot chocolate at Quattro Bar, or taking advantage of Suvretta House being ski-in, ski-out, to make a pitstop by the hot tub or the swimming pool. And by evening we don black tie for the Suvretta House Grand Restaurant, a vaulted-ceilinged affair that feels like dining in a Henry James novel.
Hitchcock famously said his idea of true happiness was ‘a clear horizon’. We’d put in a vote for one edged by mountains. As viewed from a hot tub.
The Double Room Grand Deluxe starts at £630 – or CHF 840 – per night in the off-peak season, including half-board accommodation with dinner in one of the Suvretta House restaurants. Black tie is required for dining in the Grand Restaurant.
The Arbuturian flew from London City airport to Zurich with British Airways, followed by a Glacier Express train journey to St. Moritz. Transfers from the train station are provided by Suvretta House.
Suvretta House, Via Chasellas 1, 7500 St. Moritz, Switzerland. For reservations or further details contact 0041 8183636. Website.